• Audience
    Secondary school
  • Learning stage
    Stage 4, Stage 5, Stage 6
  • Curriculum area
    Science, Geography
  • Resource type
    Video

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The Australian Museum owns and operates Lizard Island Research Station to facilitate coral reef research and education on the Great Barrier Reef.


  • The Great Barrier Reef is 2300km long. It has roughly the same area as 70 million football fields.
  • The Great Barrier Reef is home to 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 1625 species of fish, 133 species of sharks and rays, and 600 types of coral.
  • Lizard Island is a sacred place known as Dyiigurra to the Dingaal people of northern Australia. In Dingaal Dreaming, the Lizard Island group of islands is thought to be a stingray with Jiigurru being the body and the other islands forming the tail. James Cook named it Lizard Island because he saw so many lizards there when he visited in 1770.

  1. What caused the most damage to the Great Barrier Reef before 2014? How often did this occur and was the reef able to recover?
  2. What do cyclones do to the reef? How has the intensity and frequency of cyclones changed?
  3. What global event happened in 2016-2017? What happened to the coral?
  4. What weather conditions triggered the coral bleaching event in 2020? How was it different from 2016-2017?
  5. Coral reefs can recover from bleaching and cyclones, so do you think climate change poses a threat to the survival of the Great Barrier Reef? Why?

The video is a summary of events and research at the Lizard Island Research Station in 2020. The directors, Dr Anne Hoggett and Dr Lyle Vail, discuss the impacts of rising water temperature and tropical cyclones, and how reefs recover from extreme events caused by climate change.